When I was little, I used to think that my teachers and principal were like a special breed of humans. I never saw them out in the wild of real life so I didn't think of them as regular people. Honest to God, I thought they all went to a special island at the end of their work day and lived in luxury until it was time to return back and teach us little people what we needed to know. As I got older, I realized that they were in fact, regular people but I still thought of them as a celebrity of sorts. They were untouchable. They were special. When I started having kids of my own who began attending elementary school , these same feelings remained but on a more adult level of understanding. I found it weird to call them by their first name and they were still on an elevated level.
My eldest and middle attend what I believe to be a truly extraordinary elementary school. Sure, most people if they are lucky have a school that they are happy that their kids attend. Where my girls go feels like a family. Everyone knows everyone. When we started at the school, it also was receiving a brand new principal. Right from the get go, I noticed that this same BRAND NEW woman already seemed to know a lot of the kids and their names. I was automatically impressed. How many kids attended the school? That's a lot of damn names. She was always happy to see everyone. It was genuine and outrageously positive. I had spoken to her in passing about some concerns I had with the front office when we started. She listened to what I had to say, and made me feel heard. I didn't feel like I was a number in the crowd. A few months later, Zoey had an evening school function I had to attend solo with my 3 girls. As we were walking up, I was trying to look as if I had it together and be cool with to the newly introduced principal who happened to be walking up at the exact same time. Much to my horror and In slow motion, my baby (who is now is only a year away from attending ) threw up ALL over me as we just started to engage in conversation. Without any hesitation, Amy immediately starting cleaning me up and grabbed the baby to help. I wanted to crawl under a rock. Her next words forever imprinted on my heart as she unlocked the office to lead me to a nearby sink. "Listen. I am mom first. So, I get it. I got you. We moms have to stick together". Then she threw in something that made me a laugh per the usual. Someone helping me clean up baby barf and making me laugh? Winner. We have now been there almost 5 years. I've been grateful for the guidance she provides for my girls and all of the students/staff. The reason why school feels like a family is because it starts with her. Her leadership and love pours over a teaching and care taking staff (that is already killer but she encourages them that much more). They in-turn pour into their students and their family. Fyi-She is not allowed to leave our school until all 3 of my girls have finished there. One is nearing the end of her time but I still have the other two. So you've only got another seven more years or so, Amy.
Over the years, I've developed a real friendship with Amy. At first, I was kind of in awe. Remember that belief of mine that teachers were celebrities? Well, she was like the Beyonce of teachers. (Incidentally, I think I met someone who loves Beyonce more than me. We were both at her concert..but she was on the floor. I was alllllllllllll the way in the back. I digress.) Although the awe is still there, I'm blessed to now know the human side to her too. She eventually hired me to work at the school as a playground supervisor. I've taken her family photos. I've sat in her office and cried over personal matters, we've shared many laughs and tales of our children together. She is real. Her Chicago accent and her use of the word "LISSTEENN" is signature. She is adored by all of her students. She kills it as a mom (although she'd tell you otherwise. All lies.). She's funny as hell. She cares abundantly and does it all in heels that I would personally fall flat on my face wearing. I am so incredibly grateful for her and for the friendship we share. Thank you for all that you do, Amy. Truly, Queen B has nothing on you.
What is your name and how do we know each other?
"Amy Vento. Your children attend my school. You're also an employee at my school and we are friends."
How old are you?
What are you currently doing with yourself?
"I am an elementary school principal. I am the mother of 3 kids…ages 7, 10, 12."
Are you where you hoped you would be? If not/ Why? If so-what do you love about it and could you see yourself doing anything else?
"I never thought I’d be a school principal. NEVER. I always saw myself as a teacher. So am I where I thought I’d be ? No. However, I am happy with my career choice. I just didn’t know administration would be something at which I would be good. I love working with so many kids. This is obviously different than caring for just 32 kids in my own classroom. I love that I get to shape programs that I know will be beneficial for 650 kids. Right now, I’m happy in my position. But, I was happy as a teacher too. You never know what I may do next."
Women are becoming a resilient sound that cannot be silenced. What are you doing to contribute that sound?
"It’s important to empower women and help them build their own self-efficacy. Sometimes it just takes another’s voice to point out potential you may not see within yourself. If I can empower women to believe in themselves and push them in a way which helps them see the greatness I see within them- than that's pretty awesome."
What is something you learned from a younger age that has stuck with you?
"Kindness and respect matter. Show it to everyone. Strangers, service workers etc. My parents were great models for me. They waved to strangers as they passed by. They were patient and friendly with our postman, our grocery store workers, and restaurant servers. I hope my kids learn the same from me."
Who is an individual who made a profound impact on you and why?
"My Aunt Paula. She is a strong, independent women. She was a single mom, a teacher and an artist. She had passion and pursued her dreams, no matter what. Nothing was going to get in her way. She also believed in me and is proud of everything I do."
What is a weakness or something that exposes your vulnerability and what do you do to combat/embrace it in order to grow?
"I am too emotional. Sometimes, emotions drive my reactions before I can proceed logically. I have to work hard at stepping back and getting myself in a place where I can make logical decision. However, I also love the emotional side of me. It is important in my profession to think about kids as humans and not just people who help us get good test scores."
What is something that you want to accomplish and what are you doing to get to that place, if anything?
"A goal at this point is to retire! I mean, not now. I want to be able to work hard, set myself up to be secure and stable later on. I want to be able to have financial freedom and not be forced to depend on anyone else."
And now..a few questions to lighten the mood...
Dogs or Cats?
Cheeseburgers or Salad?
Beach or Mountains?
Sweet or Salty?
Lose all of your old memories or never make new ones?
"Never make new ones. I love my memories too much"
Disney..or is there any alternative?
What is a fun fact that someone may not know about you?
"Being named California Teacher of the Year was one of the biggest moments of my life."
And the final two important questions...
What is a common misconception about you that people make based on your appearance? What is your truth and how do you personify strength?
"I have a hard time knowing what people think about me. Maybe people think I’m stronger than I am? I mean, I am strong but I am sensitive and sometime people do hurt my feelings. Mean emails or comments do affect me. My truth is I am human. I make mistakes. I get my feelings hurt. I hate disappointing people-both professionally and personally."
You have inspired me. What about yourself do you hope to put out in order to inspire other young people?
"Love what you do. Have passion. Don’t be afraid to be excited about what you love in life. Surround yourself with people you can learn from and who motivate you."